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Army Veteran Empowers and Inspires

After sustaining life-altering wounds in Iraq, Nick Koulchar thought he’d lost his purpose. As it turns out, his wounds would give him a whole new mission.

In 2006, 24-year-old Koulchar entered the Army as a private. By 2008, he was deployed to Sadr City, Iraq with Alpha Company 40th Engineers, Task Force 1/6, conducting counter-improvised explosive device (IED) operations. The deployment would change his life in ways he never imagined. 

On August 26, 2008, while performing route clearance operations, the vehicle Koulchar was gunning was hit by an IED. The vehicle’s driver, Cpl. Carlo Alfonso, was killed, and Koulchar lost both legs above the knee.

At the time, Koulchar couldn’t imagine what the future held for him, but over time, he has gone on to accomplish more as an amputee – both physically and professionally – than many able-bodied people.  

Since his injury, Koulchar has completed more than 20 marathons, five obstacle course races, several CrossFit competitions and numerous physical endurance events that put his limitations to the test. DAV also put him on a new path with a new mission – an opportunity to pay it forward. He served as a DAV service officer, going the distance to help his fellow veterans receive the benefits they earned through military service.

“I could still be a productive member of society [and] support a family,” said Koulchar.  

“DAV provided me with stable full-time employment after my injuries, creating a sense of self-worth and giving me a new worthwhile mission to help veterans. The structure of full-time employment, coupled with the skills learned while becoming a national service officer, allowed me to find and tackle other challenges that once seemed impossible post-injury.” 

Koulchar continues to compete in events as an adaptive athlete, and speaks throughout the country to honor, empower and motivate veterans.  

Koulchar said the new generation of veterans returning home from service need to be made aware of DAV and its mission of serving veterans.

"People who have served share a commitment that we never leave our wounded behind. Nick embodies that idea and lives to serve his fellow veterans," said Barry Jesinoski, who directs DAV's National Headquarters. "He has an indomitable spirit and continues to focus on his abilities. He inspires his fellow veterans and shows the public how, with a little assistance, veterans are capable of accomplishing any mission we choose."

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